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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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the Polish prisoners-of-war and deportees might be formed into an army
for use against Germany. But this plan was far from any possibility of
realisation, for the Kremlin was at that very time at the climax of its policy
of the extermination of the Polish race and the mass deportation from
occupied Poland and the disappearance of Polish prisoners-of-war had
by then reached their greatest height.
It appeared that the Soviets were even more surprised by this peace
proposal made by the Polish Government on June 23rd, 1941, than by
Churchill's offer of the previous day. Twenty-one months before, they
had " finished with Poland/' and in the Treaty concluded with Germany
referred to her as the c former Poland.' However-, on June 23rd, the voice
of this c ghost' was suddenly heard on the radio—Poland still existed and
it seemed they would now have to take her into account in their schemes.
So definitely had the Kremlin decided that Poland was * finished ' that it
had not even considered itself to be in the state of war with her. If the
Kremlin were now to talk with this e phantom' Polish government
in London, the existence of which it had hitherto refused to recognise, the
two years work with Germany to destroy Poland would automatically be
cancelled. Therefore, Moscow did not vouchsafe a reply to Sikorski's
offer. The British Government may have exerted a certain amount of
influence on the Kremlin over this matter, but the ceaseless German
blows on their front line would have to be very much stronger before the
Soviets would think fit to answer.
The seemingly quixotic offer of the Polish Premier became less fantastic
as it began to assume the proportions of reality with every passing day.
At the end of two weeks when the first line of the Russian armies (over a
hundred divisions) had been cut into sections and smashed, when the
Germans, driving forward five hundred kilometres, were approaching
Orsha on the Upper Dniepr, near Smolensk, and when the Russians
were faced with the same catastrophe as Poland had faced in 1939,
and France in 1940, then and then only, did the Soviet Ambassador
inform Eden, on July 4th, 1941, that Moscow was ready to begin negotia-
tions with the Polish Government.
Fear of responsibility is one of the most predominant features of a
people living under a despotic regime. But, while on the one hand the
inferior is terrorised by even the possibility of assuming any responsibility
the ruler on the other hand cannot afford to admit his errors. Therefore,
while Russia might be willing to admit a military defeat, she was never
anxious to acknowledge a diplomatic failure. Although in point of fact it
would have been no sacrifice for Moscow to resume diplomatic relations
with Poland, (since after two weeks of war Germany had driven her from
Polish soil), it was a great sacrifice of a dictator's pride. And, judging by
the Russian standards it would have proved extremely embarrassing,